A survey, published in September 2009, has revealed that 18% of patients suffering from myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a type of blood cancer, could have lived longer if drugs were available to them, which are currently not approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for use on the NHS.
The survey, conducted by the UK MDS Patient Support Group, also found that 56 of 100 haematologists believe lower priority is given to rarer cancers than other types of cancer.
Of those surveyed, 89% said they had faced situations in which they have been unable to provide treatments for a patient because the drug they needed is not available on the NHS or has not been approved by NICE. Furthermore, around 12% of respondents said they had not informed patients of treatments which could be beneficial to them, at the risk of distressing them over treatments they cannot have.
Further reading - An in-depth analysis of the UK pharmaceutical market, including some background information on NICE appraisals, is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published June 2009)